A perplexed Baseball Ross is still trying to figure what they call a “save” in Russian but whatever it is Anton Kuznetsov picked up his first one on Saturday just after high noon in a thrilling 3-2 GCL Phillies win over the GCL Blue Jays in Dunedin Fl.
I was running late and was concerned that I might miss the first pitch. I breathed a sigh of relief when I arrived at the Blue Jays Complex to the sounds of the American and then Canadian National Anthems. I knew I had made it for the first pitch!
What I really came for was the to see Kuznetsov pitch. He had made four earlier appearances in the GCL season but they were either on the road or we missed them at the Carpenter Complex.
One of his games was a three inning start and the rest were finishing games in relief, winning one and getting no decisions in the other three. Now in five GCL games over 10.1 innings he has allowed no runs, three hits, walked one and struck out 10.
This time I wanted to take no chances to miss a Kuznetsov appearance again and I was not disappointed.
The 19-year-old lefty from Moscow, Russia was brilliant in dispatching the three Blue Jays batters he faced in turn in the bottom of the ninth needing only eight pitches, all for strikes. Anton got the lead off batter to hit a 4-3 ground out; struck out the second batter on a nice breaking ball and induced a pop out on a fast ball away, hit to shallow right to end the game. Watch the bottom of the ninth inning HERE.
I also watched my friend Seranthony Dominguez start the game on a rehab assignment from the Clearwater Threshers and pitch three innings allowing only one run. He struck out the side in the second inning, watch HERE.
Normal starter Sandro Rosario came on in the fourth inning and was strong allowing only a run and striking out five in five innings of work to get the win.
The hitting star for the Phillies was third baseman Kuedy Bocio . He doubled and eventually scored on a passed ball in third. He drove in the winning run on a deflected line drive hit off the pitcher in the eight inning. Watch HERE.
The win enabled to the GCL Phillies to sweep the two game, home and home series with the first place Blue Jays to move within percentage points of them for first place in the Northwest Division of the Gulf Coast League.
For me though the highlight of the day was finally getting to watch lefty Anton Mikhailovich Kuznetsov pitch. He made it look so easy out on the mound in getting his first save in a Phillies uniform.
It was only Thursday afternoon that I watched a French Canadian from the Montreal area, 18- year-old Ben Pelletier in a GCL game against the Yankees, hit one of the longest home runs I had ever seen hit at the Carpenter Complex.
We should have expect nothing less on Saturday than watching a big save by Russia’s 19-year-old Kuznetsov with the winning run driven in by the 18-year-old Bocio from the Dominican Republic. If this keeps up, Phillies Baseball will become someday a worldwide sports brand name!